Messages from Rabbi Russo

October 16, 2015 - 3 Heshvan

Shabbat Shalom

A colleague introduced me to this to quote by Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azoulai (Chida, 18th century).

The characteristics of God are not like those of human beings. For the human being, a keshet (bow) is a sign of war. And God gave the keshet (rainbow) as a sign of peace.

These past two weeks have reopened the wounds of war (bows and knives and guns) as Israel has dealt with an onslaught of terrorist attacks.  In the past two weeks, Palestinian terrorists have attacked more than 50 Jews.  8 people have died as a result of these attacks.  Included among the wounded are a 2-year-old baby, a 13-year-old riding his bike, and a 70-year-old woman waiting for a bus.  

My friends in Israel tell me that they try to continue with daily routines.  A very dear of friend of ours got married today.  The balance between safety and trying to stay calm with a sense of a normal routine is impossibly hard.  We will be discussing this more during Shabbat for Parashat Noah.  I found this article in Tablet Magazine to be a particularly interesting take on how young people are coping with humor.  The long-term psychological damage from living with terrorism will be felt long after the immediate threat subsides. You can read about it here.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Women's League, and the Rabbinical Assembly have all encourages this Shabbat to be designated as a special Shabbat in solidarity with Israel.  We will recite the following prayer when we stand in front of the open Ark:

Special Kavannah for Unity with Israel Shabbat
By Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, CA
We invite people around the world to recite this kavannah in unity with the State of Israel this Shabbat, October 17, 2015.

El Maleh Rachamim -- Compassionate God,
We pray not to wipe out haters but to banish hatred.
Not to destroy sinners but to lessen sin.
Our prayers are not for a perfect world but a better one
Where parents are not bereaved by the savagery of sudden attacks
Or children orphaned by blades glinting in a noonday sun.
Help us dear God, to have the courage to remain strong, to stand fast.
Spread your light on the dark hearts of the slayers
And your comfort to the bereaved hearts of families of the slain.
Let calm return Your city Jerusalem, and to Israel, Your blessed land.
We grieve with those wounded in body and spirit,
Pray for the fortitude of our sisters and brothers,
And ask you to awaken the world to our struggle and help us bring peace.

I encourage you to call your friends and family in Israel to check in.  Follow the news, make donations to Masorti Judaism and other organizations concerned with Israel's security. Pray this Shabbat.  Pray that this new wave of violence will end quickly.  Pray for healing of all the victims and their families.  Pray for the Keshet of peace, of the rainbow, and that the guns, knives, and bombs disappear from Israeli daily life.  Pray for a Shabbat of calm.         

Shabbat Shalom.